On presentation of budget for 2021-22,physical fight started in parliament among government and opposition members. Books and other physical things were thrown towards each other. Abusive language was used and for this some members even said that using such language is part of our culture. It took 3 or 4 days to Shahbaz Sharif as leader of the opposition to complete his speech on budget. However now parliament has become calm but with whose instructions. The provincial assemblies also followed this pattern and alarmingly Baluchistan assembly did the most and locked down all its doors on 18th June. Police intervened, arrested most of the opposition members and made the way by breaking a door through a bulldozer.
Obviously for some circles it is the establishment who directly or indirectly has ruled Pakistan for its 73 years since 1947. However Improving relationship for effective law enforcement has remained top of the agenda all the time. Building sustainable mechanisms for dialogue, critical thinking and peace education on university campuses and other educational institutions have always been required.
Currently, 64% of Pakistan’s population is under the age of 30. Among them, youth with access to higher education carry disproportionate influence in society. However, Pakistan’s siloed education system does not allow interactions across diverse groups or campuses, leading to intolerance, and in some cases, radicalization. To tackle growing intolerance of diversity at university campuses, civil society and state institutions, sustainable mechanisms is required. The goal is to empower young people as the next generation of peace builders.
In Pakistan, religious militancy has eroded a traditional culture of music and poetry that favors free expression. Local cultural leaders need support in reviving performances and content that encourages tolerant coexistence.
Social media campaign isproviding civic education about electoral rights and processes, including avenues of accountability to prevent election-related violence and its many consequences. Multiple videos produced by the program went viral and the campaign overall have reached over 22 million people.
Now coming to the main question Pakistan’s economy has been growing slowly over the past two decades. Annual per capita growth has averaged only 2 percent, less than half of the South Asia average, partly due to inconsistent macroeconomic policies and an under-reliance on investment and exports to drive economic growth.
However, the containment measures adopted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic led to a severe contraction in economic activity during the final quarter of FY20. As a result, GDP growth is estimated to have contracted by 1.5 percent in FY20. Half of the working population saw either job or income losses, with informal and low-skilled workers employed in elementary occupations facing the strongest loss in employment. As a result, poverty incidence is estimated to have increased in FY20 from 4.4 to 5.4 percent, using the international poverty line of $1.90 PPP 2011 per day, with more than two million people falling below this poverty line. Moreover, 40 percent of households suffered from moderate to severe food insecurity. The government, therefore, have to focus on mitigating the adverse socioeconomic effects of the pandemic through a stimulus package equivalent to approximately 2.9 percent of GDP and a deferment of some of the fiscal adjustment measures.
Over the first half of FY21 (July to December 2020), there have been signs of a fragile recovery. With increased community mobility, private consumption has strengthened, aided by record official remittance inflows. Investment is also estimated to have slightly recovered, as machinery imports and cement sales both recorded double-digit growth rates.
On the production side, crop production was relatively weak in the first six months of FY21, as cotton production was adversely affected by heavy monsoon floods.
Although headline inflation fell over July-February FY21 (y-o-y), it is still high at 8.3 percent on average, mostly on account of high food inflation.
Compared to a deficit of US$2.0 billion for June-December 2019, the current account recorded a surplus of US$1.1 billion for June-December 2020, the first half-yearly surplus in almost a decade, as strong official remittance inflows more than offset a wider trade deficit. Both foreign direct investment and portfolio investment inflows decreased during this period, but the improved current account supported a balance of payments surplus. The Pakistani rupee appreciated by 5.4 percent against the U.S. dollar, from end-June 2020 to end-December 2020, and official foreign exchange reserves increased to US$14.9 billion at end-December 2020, equivalent to 3.3 months of imports of goods and services.
The fiscal deficit widened over the first six months of FY21 (y-o-y), as expenditure growth outpaced an increase in revenues. In line with the recovering of economic activity, total revenues grew by 3.7 percent. Over the same period, total expenditures rose by 6.2 percent, partly driven by higher interest payments. Public debt, including guaranteed debt, reached 87.9 percent of GDP at end-December 2020, up from 86.7 percent of GDP at end-December 2019.Still, public debt will remain elevated in the medium term, as will Pakistan’s exposure to debt-related shocks.
Major risks to the outlook include the possibility of new waves of infections, the emergence of new vaccine-resistant strains, and setbacks in mass vaccinations. In addition, more delays in the implementation of critical structural reforms could lead to further fiscal and macroeconomic imbalances.
Pakistan continues to face multiple sources of internal and external conflict. While incidences of domestic terrorism have reduced, in part due to measures taken by the Pakistani state, extremism and intolerance of diversity has grown.
There is some recognition by the state that instead of merely kinetic responses holistic counterterrorism policies are needed to counteract this trend. The growing extremism has been fueled by a narrow vision of Pakistan’s national identity, threatening the country’s prospect for social cohesion and stability. The inability of state institutions to reliably provide peaceful ways to resolve grievances has encouraged groups to seek violence as a legitimate alternative.
While peaceful political transitions occurred in both 2013 and 2018, the country is still facing mounting debt crisis and a perennial trade imbalance on the economic front. Furthermore, Pakistan’s high-profile disputes with neighboring India and Afghanistan have periodically resulted in violence and continue to pose a threat to regional and international security.
For this to achieve all stake holders need to sit together to devise ways and means and their ways of implementations otherwise we would be labeled a nation fighting on the streets and in the parliament.